Adventurous Ways

Adventurous Ways

The sun is burning on our heads. It has a tremendous power, but it too, can not quite penetrate the hazy, dusty air that is currently haunting Nepal’s sky.

Shanty, Guillome and I have not been on our way for long yet. I had met them at a meditation course in Pokhara. I really wanted to go on a trek before leaving Nepal and Guillome, from France, asked me if he could accompany me. Of course he could and a little later, the dutch Shanty had asked to join in too.

High to the mountains, I did not want to go, because I didn’t have the right equipment and the view is so limited anyway. We agreed on the Royal Trek. Prince Charles of the United Kingdom of Great Britain walked this route in 1980, along with an entourage of 90 people, camping enthusiasts and escorts. Therefore the name.

The three of us do not have much on us and most of all nobody carries our luggage – apart from us. In our backpacks is just water, a few clothes, personal items, a map and of course a bit of provisions.

At the local market in Budhi Bajar, our starting point, we had just bought a few bananas, chips and a bit of junk food.

We march through the outback. Only a few houses we see. Continuously the road goes up. It isn’t tarmaced since kilometers anymore. We meet a farmer. He carries a big sack on his back. Guillome wants to know what’s in it. It is honey. After some back and forth, he agrees to sell us some of it. We fill it into an empty PET bottle, say our thanks and leave.

After a few hours we arrive in the small town of Kalikasthan, where we decide to have our lunch that we brought with us.

Village life: the children get off the bus in school uniforms, a woman washes clothes in a bowl, oxen are drinking and bathing in a pool of water.

We are struggling to get up after eating, but then manage to do it. Guillome is our map expert. He has been working in India for some time and is vacationing here in Nepal. We continue on small paths through the hilly landscape. Time and again I think how nice it would be if the air was clearer. We would definitely see the Annapurna mountain range with its high peaks and the snow. But this sight was denied me during my entire stay in Nepal.

A short part of the route we ride on a bus, because we are not sure if we can reach the next village on foot and anyway always have to make space for all the vehicles whose drivers torment them up the catastrophic road.

Indian or Nepalese music videos are being played in a ridiculous volume inside the bus. The mood is rising, hehe.

After about 20 minutes we get off and continue on foot. The sun is already running low as a group of schoolgirls follow us on the way. They are very interested and try to talk to us. Their language skills in English are still evolving, hehe.

An elderly man comes across and inquires about our plans. Obviously he knows the girls. As it turns out later, he is one of the teachers at a school in the area. When he hears that we have no accommodation for tonight, he decides that we should go with one of the girls from the group.

Her family has a house where we can spend the night.

That sounds awesome, we think. However, we are not sure what the family will say to that. In good faith, we agree on it and go the way with the girls. They have a very long way to school. From the point where we met them, we probably continued for another three to four kilometers.

We get off the small path and the way continues up steeply. We find ourselves again in the midst of fields in a steep slope. There I also catch sight of the houses of the people who live up here. It seems to be a small community. Now we are being received by them and allowed to introduce ourselves. A few of the schoolgirls live here.

I have no idea where exactly we would stay and if we were there already. I could only remember with which of the girls we are supposed to go. Shanty and I take some pictures. Guillome talks to the people.

After a few moments, we realize that we are not quite there yet. The girl assigned to us, gestures us to follow her and we say goodbye to the others. A short walk finally leads us to a rather large house made of natural- and sandstone. By now the sun has almost disappeared.

Here we find the girl’s family. Her little brother, her mother who is pregnant and a nephew or cousin of the family – I did not understand the connection, hehe. Where the father is? Currently working in Dubai. From there, he sends money home to feed the family. We make sure that we are actually allowed to stay here. Then the hunger spreads, because we have not had anything since lunch.

We are astonished when the two youngest of the family – the about 8 years old boy and the schoolgirl – pick a chicken out of the cage, take a knife and cut off its head together.

Guillome and him displume it afterwards. Meanwhile, Shanty, the schoolgirl and mom are chopping ginger and garlic. It is being cooked and finally we can eat something. I am very happy, because I was sooo hungry.

After the meal we talk a little and there is tea. Nowhere is it right for us that the pregnant woman has to cater us and without further ado we come to the eternal discussion:

How much hospitality can one accept and what is required in return?

Tonight, we would all sleep on the second floor. Shanty quickly talks the intention of the pregnant woman to sleep on the floor out of her. She will sleep with her daughter in one of the two beds. Shanty in the other. Guillome, the little brother, the nephew, and I will become friends with the ground.

But before Shanty could even enter the room, I had to search it for spiders. She is terrified of the eight-legged animals, hehe. So I was also allowed to examine the toilet, which of course is outside the house, a few hours ago. Of course, there were a few dead spiders and probably some more living, but she would survive.

That we were worried about the spiders seemed ridiculous to us the next morning, as it turned out, but more on that later.

I am totally tired when I lie down on the floor. I do not care how hard it is. The most important thing is that I have a blanket and I can sleep. The night is quiet, except for the snoring of Kenan, the nephew.

It’s cool in the morning. I do not want to keep on laying and so I get up. Outside, I want to go, out in the fresh air and see what there is to see. It is 06:30 and the sun has already risen. Its rays can hardly penetrate the dense, dust-filled air. Again, I realize how limited the view in the country currently is. Nevertheless, I like the sight.

It is peaceful and very quiet. The others are practically all asleep. Only the kids are up to do their homework.

Then suddenly a scream! On the second floor. What’s happening? Kenan runs upstairs and the mother leaves the room.

It quickly becomes clear what it is: a snake is in the bedroom.

I go upstairs to take pictures. Later I wonder if it was already there when we slept. I would rather not know the answer.

Shanty deals with a neighbor’s child while the hostess prepares breakfast. Tea is cooked over an open fire. It is a very simple way of life that the family leads here. It is impressive and makes me think.

Guillome shows the youngest a few yoga techniques. Later we pack our things and prepare our departure. I have the part of giving the hostess our thank you in the form of a small donation. We had long discussed the amount of the sum. Finally, we gave her 1500 Nepalese rupees. That’s about 13 Swiss Francs or 11 Euros.

So little? You might think that. However, it is a difficult balancing act between we do not want to offend anyone by paying for hospitality, and we do not want to offend anyone by throwing money around. Among other things, this has to do with sustainability and a world view that we do not want to convey.

Europeans, although the average person has more money than the average person here in Nepal, should not be seen as walking wallets.

This is my opinion. I am happy – due to the different circumstances – to pay or give a little more. But not much more. We thought of 1500 rupees as a fair, not insulting price.

After a friendly farewell we continue again on foot. It goes up and down. I do not remember the exact route anymore.

It’s hot. Not only in terms of the weather, but also in terms of mood: Shanty and Guillome keep fighting each other with words.

Since Shanty studies medicine and wants to become a doctor, she is often vehemently in favor of the scientific view of things. Guillome on the other hand is very alternative and spiritually oriented. Through yoga, meditation and personal experience, he has changed his world view.

The topic: depression and the different attempts to cure it. Both have the same goal, but on how to get to it, the opinions of the French and the Dutch divide. I see myself as an audience and occasionally as a kind of moderator.

Honestly, if I had not been there, they would probably have gone their separate ways, hehe.

I said that I can not remember the exact route, but I know that we arrived in Chisapani in the afternoon of that day. Also this place is very small. We follow different signs that indicate an accommodation. But after we found it, we realize that its gate is locked and nobody seems to be there.

We find a kind of village center and inquire there for accommodation. After some back and forth, it becomes clear that the owner of a small shop knows somebody who has a key to the place where we were before. He calls him and some time later somebody actually shows up and opens the doors to us. He comes in with us and shows us the compound.

It’s just run-down at best, if it’s ever been up, haha. It reminds me more of the buildings of a military urban fighting training area or barracks. The second floor was obviously never built, yet stairs lead up there. Trash is lying around outside, but the rooms have beds and blankets. There is a shower and a kind of lounge with a pool table.

The guy just wants to cash in the money for the night and then hands us all the keys. We now have the whole building to ourselves, unbelievable.

Down in the village center, we get some food. There are not really restaurants. Someone agrees to cook some instant noodles for us, so we do not have to starve to death. Yes, we are very, very far from tourist paths. It is unique.

The three of us sit on the veranda of our hostel and enjoy the evening atmosphere. Guillome opens a bottle with Schnapps and we drink.

I am tired, but I feel very well. What I experience here is so unique and different. Of course, before I go to sleep I have to discover the huge spider that is on the ceiling above my bed. It has a diameter of about 15cm. Stay up there, I think.

I fall asleep and, of course, I wake up in the middle of the night to discover that the spider is gone.

With my flashlight, I search briefly the walls. I do not see it anymore. Great, I think. When I saw you, I was more comfortable. Nevertheless, I fell asleep.

We are sitting at breakfast. Again we are in the same store where we had dinner yesterday. There have- who would have thought so – noodles. Guillome peels a ginger root and with water and a little of our brought honey, this makes for a wonderful tea.

Many people in the village are up and going about their things. One woman cares for the hair of a girl, another washes laundry. Before we leave, we want to inquire about the road ahead. Since we are in Chisapani already, where the Royal Trek really stops, we want to continue and go to one of the two lakes that are very close by. The Rupa lake and the Begnas lake.

The way goes down. We gently descend. Shanty and Guillome are fighting again and I take a sip of water. We pass Rupakot and after a while we see the valley floor. There are many fields laid out and buffalo graze.

We reach flat terrain and look for something edible. Unfortunately we find in this small place no possibility to eat. Although there are a few signs that point to restaurants, they look closed.

As we go on, tired and hungry, we realize that we are now at the southern end of Rupa Lake. Actually, we wanted to get between the two lakes. Now they are both north of us. We head to the middle of the valley and try to figure out how to get to our destination. After some talks with locals it quickly becomes clear: there are two ways. One leads along the right, eastern lake shore. There is also a road. The second leads along the left, western lake shore. There is no road, but the route is obviously shorter.

People tell us to take the right path. Above all the women. It was better for us, they say. Where the problem is on the left, we want to know. It is heavy terrain, thick forest and so on.

And that’s where our ego kicks in – at least that of Guillome and me. It is clear that we take the left path!

Said and done. We start for the western lake shore. At first the way is pleasant. Until we have a buffalo herd in front of us. The path leads right through them. We quickly realize that a cow makes aggressive movements. It obviously makes us understand that we should not approach.

Shanty and I do not want to get into a fight with buffaloes. But Guillome keeps going. I do not know what exactly his goal was. Today I think he just wanted to feel. He continues undeterred on the way. Slower. At times he stops. Shanty and I call out to him that we do not find this a good idea and that he should please turn back.

The Frenchman ignores us. A few buffaloes now seem reassured, but the aggressive mother rages around and snorts violently.

Shanty and I watch the events for a moment and then realize that we have to pass the buffalo through the forest. It is steep and the ground is littered with a layer of dead leaves about twenty centimeters thick.

During the descent we lose the grip again and again. Although Shanty has sticks with her, the Dutchwoman is not used to this terrain. It is extremely steep, unusually slippery and totally unpredictable. In retrospect, probably the most difficult terrain I have ever walked on.

We both fall down, get scratches and bumps. Both of us curse Guillome, me inwardly, Shanty however, out loud.

After about 20 minutes we reach him. He walked through the buffaloes. On the lakeshore breaks a fierce debate about the meaning and nonsense of his action. How we felt, what we expected of him, but also the other way round. At that time I found his point interesting, even more so today.

It was perfectly okay for him to put both of us in this situation. In his eyes, it would not have been too much to ask that if he had been attacked, for us to call an ambulance and then move on. That he would have enabled us to witness this attack and its consequences, and above all to experience it, he weighted as harmless.

I could not quite understand that. It somehow did not quite fit into my world view. Today it does. Everyone is responsible for themselves and for their feelings and thoughts. Not for the others.

We continue. It’s hot and we are hungry and exhausted. The way ahead will not be easier. We fight our way on small trails along the lakeshore. Inwardly, I have long come to the conclusion that we have chosen the wrong path.

We see no end. There is no end in sight. At 15:30 we are still on the road, without having eaten anything. It goes on and on. Do not give up, just keep going.

We come to another bank slope. What’s this? Up there we see houses. We consult the map. Guillome thinks we can go up there. I do not know what to believe. My mind is a bit limited when I’m hungry and exhausted.

Anyway, let’s just do it. The Frenchman steps forward. Shanty is visibly exhausted. I’m walking the path with her.

We fight our way up this hill. It is definitely 100 meters in altitude difference. Soacked in sweat we arrive at the top. Guillome is already here.

We find a kind of bus stop and wait for the public traffic. The goal is clear: we need something to eat, no matter what. At 16:11 on this day, I am with a Frenchman on the roof of a bus, that takes us to the next village. He sees some signs that point out a restaurant. He asks me what I think.

I’m too tired to have an opinion. We all get out and find a guard house. Security guards stand at the entrance to the restaurant. Apparently it’s down there in the woods. We ask if there is food. The staff says yes. We do not care if and how expensive it is, so we walk down the forest and are surprised when we arrive at the bottom:

We found the Begnas Lake Resort & Villas! A four star hotel on Lake Begnas.

At the front desk we ask if we can get something to eat. In secret, we are afraid that we would not be accepted because of our clothes. For the staff this is obviously not an issue. Only certain guests give us very strange looks. Out of curiosity, Guillome asks what the night costs here. The cheapest room costs $ 120 per night. The more expensive double room 230 USD.

What a change. An hour ago we walked through the shallow lake shore, sweaty, hungry and tired. Now we sit in the restaurant of a 4 star hotel and enjoy our meal at a sunset. Incredible. It is totally surreal.

We have arrived. After three days we are done. This is the conclusion of our trek.

We are sitting there drinking a cold beer. Talk. Talk about our origins, our plans and the world. About our experiences on the trek. It is a wonderful feeling.

The same evening we take a taxi to Pokhara. Guillome and I are going for a beer later this evening. Shanty would rather not come, but suggests to meet for breakfast together the next morning. We agree. After that, each one of us would go his or her own way again. Shanty would go home after a few days. Guillome would fly back to India to continue working there. And me, I would go to Switzerland again.


After our breakfast together, I packed my things in the guesthouse and then made my way to Kathmandu. 9 hours by minibus from Pokhara to Kathmandu. Then a 6 hour flight to Abu Dhabi. There a layover for 7 hours. This is followed by a 7 hour flight to Geneva. Waiting time of 3 hours in Geneva – in my case 4, because there was a problem with the plane. In 50 minutes we flew past the Alps to Zurich, where I was picked up to finally arrive at home at 21:00 in the evening … after 35 hours.

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